Tennis needs time to sort out integrity issues

Tennis needs time to sort out integrity issues

Tuesday, July 19, 2016 Posted by Andy McCarron
The sport of tennis needs space while it sorts out its integrity issues according to Mike O’Kane

The sport of tennis needs room to breathe while it sorts out its integrity issues according to Mike O’Kane, chairman of the betting industry’s integrity body ESSA.

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) is currently undergoing a year long review into the sport’s corruption procedures after criticism from the media during January’s Australian Open and O’Kane says that the sport should be allowed to get on with its investigations. 

O’Kane commented: “It is quite right that the tennis authorities seek to conduct a thorough investigation of its integrity procedures. We must, quite reasonably, give the sport some breathing space to identify and implement any necessary changes, but changes are clearly needed and the sooner the better for us all.

“In the meantime, ESSA will continue to support the sport in this important endeavour, which will hopefully soon result in the delivery of a best practice model that others will follow.”

ESSA has reported that the second quarter of 2016 saw 41 cases of suspicious betting activity reported, with Tennis accounting for 34 (or 83%) of the cases identified. Tennis was followed by football with four and one each in snooker, handball and beach volleyball.

O’Kane added: “Tennis has dominated our integrity figures for some time now and, as part of our desire to do all we can to stamp out this illicit activity, we are embarking on a trial integrity partnership with Sportradar specifically focused on tennis.”

In ESSA’s report, TIU head of communications Mark Harrison explained that the TIU conducts all operational matters in confidence for investigative purposes, and to encourage witnesses to come forward with information and testify at hearings.

He was also less than impressed at the role the media has been playing in sensationalising some issues: “Where players have been named by third parties in relation to match alerts, the result is often international media attention and unwarranted speculation that can tarnish reputations. 

“While investigations can lead to prosecution, they also have an important role to play in protecting players from intrusion and reputational damage.”

Totally Gaming Says: In the past, sporting authorities could have easily been accused of burying their heads in the sand with regards match fixing, so tennis must be applauded for taking the issue seriously and reviewing its existing practices. It's volatile nature appears to generate more suspicious betting patterns than any other sport, so it is important that tennis can speak from a position of authority when challenged.

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